Tuesday, October 31, 2006

List compiled on status of layoffs

There is finally a list on the BJ Retirees web site indicating the status of Beacon Journal staff members who were laid off in August. The list is compiled with the best information available from the Akron unit of the Newspaper Guild and staff members themselves. The layoff prompted a massive number of volunteer resignations by staff members with about 300 years of experience. Many of the laid-off staff members quickly obtained jobs elsewhere and therefore declined call back offers. There are, however, still a few still looking for work.

Click on the headline above to go directly to the list or use the link at the left to go to the Retirees web site.

Please send any additions or corrections to hliggett@sbcglobal.net

Also please feel free to leave any comments you may have.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Letter asks community support

The web site of the Beacon Journal unit of the Newspaper Guild displays a letter being sent to Beacon supporters asking them to e-mail publisher Edward Moss and new owner David Black to express their concerns about what has happened and could still happen to the newspaper.

Click on the headline to go to the letter on the web site at http://www.bjguild.homeip.net

An ad also may be published.

Here'a the lead on the letter:

Dear Beacon Journal supporter,

Several months ago, when the Beacon Journal was for sale, you showed your concern for your daily newspaper by expressing support for keeping the Beacon a strong, quality newspaper dedicated to maintaining the highest standards. We appreciate that expression and ar
e convinced it effectively put bidders on notice that the Akron-area community feels a keen sense of ownership in its daily newspaper.

Now, we are asking for your help once again, to demand that the new owner, for his part, match your commitment to and interest in the Beacon as a premiere newspaper worthy of the Akron community. As recently as late June, that new owner, David Black of Canada, said layoffs of newroom personnel were unlikely and unnecessary. Only six weeks later, his publisher, Edward Moss, announced that 25 percent of the newsroom’s 160 positions were being eliminated. Since then, 27 employees from other departments have been let go. In recent years, you’ve seen your Sunday Beacon magazine disappear. You’ve seen the Sunday News and Views section, as well as the Saturday editorial page, evaporate. You’ve seen news bureaus in Hudson, Medina and Stark County close. You’ve watched the entire newspaper shrink, from local news to features to business and sports coverage. Without overstating the obvious, you are getting less than what you used to, less than what you expect and, we believe, less than what a thriving, five-county community of well more than a half- million people deserves and demands.

We are concerned that further reductions would lower the Beacon Journal to below a
ny level considered journalistically acceptable to you, our readers. Of course we are trying to protect jobs. But, more than that, we are inviting you, our most loyal and vocal readers, to play a role in protecting your stake in the Beacon Journal and in the life of your community.

What we are asking of you today is to let the owner and publisher know that you are troubled that, by virtue of the deep layoffs that already have occurred, your Beacon Journal is less than what you want, that further cuts would be intolerable. Please e-mail Mr. Black at DBlack@blackpress.ca and Mr. Moss, at emoss@thebeaconjournal.com. Tell them what you expect and demand of your Beacon Journal.

In other Guild news, officers were elected by acclamation during a meeting Wednesd
ay, Oct. 18, at the Printer's Club. They are: Stephanie Warsmith, chair; Bob DeMay, first vice chair; John Higgins second vice chair; and Katie Byard, secretary/treasurer. These officers will serve until January, when the Guild's annual election for officers and executive board members will be held. Warsmith had been the secretary-treasurer, but now takes over as unit chairperson following the departure of Andale Gross, who took a job with the Associated Press in Kansas City. The above officers will complete the terms for 2006 and serve until the annual unit election of officers in January.

There is now a link to the Akron Unit Guild web site on our web site.

Go to our web site

Go to Guild web site

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Holy cannoli, has it been fun.

Food editor Jane Snow is leaving the Akron Beacon Journal, but she isn't hanging up her apron just yet. Jane will continue to write her BJ e-mail newsletter, Second Helpings, and there will be an open house with Jane next month when she will introduce the new food editor.

Jane wrote the longest goodbye yet for the front of the Premier (E1) section. It
was 37 graphs, 95 sentences and 1,514 words.

Here’s the lead:

The year was 1978. I had never eaten a sauerkraut ball. I had never heard of Strickland's Frozen Custard. I had never dined in my car at Swenson's. I was young and svelte. All of that was about to change.

In the ensuing years, Akron literally would seep into my bones and pile up on my hips as I earned my daily bread by eating it, first as food critic and then food editor of the Beacon Journal.

I gained (and later lost) 100 pounds, and it has been delicious. But now it's time to say goodbye. After 28 years at the Beacon Journal (25 of them writing about food), I'm resigning to write cookbooks and dabble in other food adventures. But holy cannoli, has it been fun.

What she won't miss:

Writing a 25th how-to-cook-a-turkey story. Wading each week through dozens of press releases (a recent beaut -- ``Finding Holiday Joy in Soymilk.'')

What she will miss:

Everything else. At the top of the list is the friendship and encouragement so many of you have offered. I treasure the kind letters I've received over the years. Two stand out in my mind. An elderly reader, worried that I was working too hard, sent a copy of the food section from her home town in Tennessee and suggested I reprint the whole thing.

``It isn't as good as yours, but use it anyway and take the week off,'' she wrote.

The second was from a reader who began her letter, ``You don't know me, but you're one of my best friends. I have coffee with you every Wednesday morning.''

I can relate. I feel the same way about all of you. Each week when I sat down to write, I felt a personal connection. It was like writing a letter to a friend.

This isn't really goodbye. I plan to remain in Akron, so you may run into me at the grocery store or a charity event. Still, I'd like to thank you for enriching my life and reminding me daily that food is about more than sustenance. It is about love, family, comfort, history, healing, longing... essentially, life itself.

It was a pleasure sharing the feast with you.

Click on the headline to read the full story and sign up for Jane's newsletter.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Leo Osmar's lifetime job recollection

Retired Beacon Journal composing room employee Leo V. Osmar wrote down some of his recollections of the composing room in the 1960s and a special agreement between Knight Ridder and individual employes in addition to the International Typographic Union contract.

"There was an additional agreement printed and inserted in our individual copies of said contract but was in no way connected to or part of the contract, " Osmar writes. " It was not reviewed by International Typographical Union in Colorado Springs beforehand, but they overwhelmingly approved it after the fact. It was not a contract between the Beacon Journal Publishing Company and the Akron Typographical Union #182. It was an agreement between the Knight Ridder Publishing Company and each individual printer working in the Composing Room of the Akron Beacon Journal."

"Each printer was given life tenure at the Beacon Journal regardless of any downswing in business, fire, flood or Act of God. If I find my copy I will insert it.'

Osmar's recollections
are on the web site. It is of no value now, but does anyone have a copy of that additional agreement?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Saying goodbye to Mike Needs

Did you miss Mike Needs party at Larry's on Thursday night? No problem. Just click on the headline. Jim Arnold has a gallery of photos from the party on his web site. Here are two of the photos: One is Mike with Kathy Fraze and the other seems to be saying something about the crazy, upside dowrn world hereabouts lately.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tom Reed off to Columbus Dispatch

Beacon Journal sports columnist Tom Reed was saved from layoff, but he decided to resign. He begins work as a feature writer at the Columbus Dispatch on November 1.

Here is Tom’s summary of his Beacon Journal career:

My start date at the Beacon was February 28, 2000. I was hired as a prep sports writer in the Canton bureau. Through attrition and good fortune I moved up the ranks. I covered L
eBron James' transition from high school to the NBA. I have covered the past two Olympic Games in Athens and Turin. I began writing columns about three years ago. I wrote columns, features and enterprise for the Beacon the past two years.

My last day was Wednesday. I start at the Dispatch on Nov. 1.

I have been married for 14 years. My wife's name is Denise. We have a toy poodle (Finnigan) and a calico cat (Molly).

On the ABJ's current state I will say only that I'm very proud of the way people in the newsroom have come together during very
adverse times. I consider the past six years the most memorable of my career. I will never forget the opportunities given to me by the paper.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bandy returns from Florida for visit

Retired veteran rewrite man Don Bandy was back in Akron during the weekend to attend the wedding of a grand niece in Hudson. His visit offered an opportunity to talk for nearly two hours about old times at the newspaper.

He gazed in amazemenet at the 16 names on the Blog Wall of Honor of retired staffers who represent a combined 291 years of service to the BJ. We talked about some of the talented reporters still at the BJ and even about some of the worst writers we could remember. It was Don's job to make them look good.

Don does not miss the big old house on Aqueduct Street or the tons of leaves and is enjoying life in Florida. . He is in his own condo, gets the Bradenton newspper and is within five minutes of the beach and near siblings.

His address is:

2770 71st St. Court West
Bradenton, FL 342009

Linda is back in BJ library

Linda Golz is back at her old desk in the Beacon Journal library, but she will be moving up to a job as a reporter or copy editor. Linda was a librarian for almost 14 years. She began working at the Beacon on January 1, 1993 and became full time in 2001. She was a correspondent for the newspaper for almost 21 years. Except for clerk Dan Roese she probably had the most service of any of those laid ott.

Here’s the report from Linda:

I am in the library this week, then I am not sure where. Either I will be a copy editor or a reporter. They haven't decided yet.

I have many years of experience as a correspondent (back when we used to be "stringers" and we wrote a lot, including feature stories and other bigger stories, I was Linda Frederick! HA) - more than 20.

I also worked for other newspapers, so, I do have some experience but they aren't sure what to do with me, I suspect.

Glad to be back, though, even though nothing feels quite right at the BJ yet. Still, it is part of my "family" and I feel like I came "home" to my people. Many are gone. It is so strange.

I hear that they are not yet done with layoffs. Production, I hear from a friend down there, is supposed to get hit soon, and I don't know where else. Sigh.

At least in the newsroom, we Guild members had the contract to sort of protect us, and make things a little less painful, as do the teamsters.

I am married to Mike Golz [He works at Summit Racing in Tallmadge], have three beautiful grown daughters who have busy, active lives (and one is planning a wedding on 7/7/07) and I don't know what else to tell you.

Life at the BJ is unsettling, but, I am glad to be back. Must really be weird for the retirees. Who could have ever imagined?!

Linda Golz

Contact Linda at Frolz@aol.com

Balogh designs freelance future

Beacon Journal artist Dennis Balogh has decided to resign and devote his full energies to his freelance business. Here is his sketch of things:

I started at the Beacon in late January 1985. I came in as an illustrator/designer working on illustrations for page fronts and doing design work for Beacon Magazine. I guess my earliest achievement was redesigning the Sunday Magazine and then art directing its look
for the following years of publication.With our freelance budget Beacon magazine featured illustrations done by our staff artists and numbers of nationally famous illustrators. We received notable recognition from design competitions across the country.

When the magazine folded all my contributions were then with the newspaper. When the magazine returned Kathy Hagedorn was the new art director.

I've been an assistant art director for the department for most of my years here. My main contribution has been in illustration and design and in managing the work flow of the editorial art department. My illustrations were part of the graphic content of the Pulitzer prize winning Goodyear takeover coverage.

Our art department was a major contributor in helping develop the visual strength of this paper. I enjoyed and am proud to have been part of such a talented group. Over the years good talent left and strong new talent entered. We really made good hires. We'll still have four of those hires left to keep things rolling.

I began freelancing a half dozen or more years ago. In recent years the business has picked up. I do magazine feature illustrations for various out of town publications. Illustration isn't that big locally.

I also do a good deal of portraiture. Some is for publication and some for framing and hanging. Recently, I did the past presidents of Samford University in Alabama. The past two years I illustrated the top CEO's of the year for New York Stock Exchange Magazine.

I ' ve had an agent in New York over the past two years. She has brought a few higher end clients my way. I'm counting on that to continue.

With freelance illustration you have to hustle and make deadlines. Of course we all know about deadlines. And you really don't want to turn down a job. You want people to think you're always available for them. The toughest part of freelancing is keeping the work coming. That will be my biggest challenge.

Aboout the Layoffs: If buyouts were offered there would not have been one layoff. That would have kept the newsroom morale better intact. From the art department's view. Feedback has come our way that the new owner does not see a strong need for staffing of but a few visual people. Our paper is very strong visually and the readers respond to that. You have to realize what it takes to stay visually strong.

Can we educate our new owner on what it takes to put out a good daily paper? Or is he too set in his ways? I guess our editors are doing their best.

About my family: Its just me and wife Patty now. Our daughter Lori is 25 and started a job in New York City less than a month ago. She is a designer for a graphic design firm. My two sons are in town they are age 31 and 29. No grand kids, because of no marriages. We have our fingers crossed that the oldest may get engaged come Christmas time. These young folks are slow movers compared to my day.


It's last column, but it isn't goodbye for Jane

Here's the lead on Jane Snow's final "Tidbits" column:

This is my final Tidbits column, but it's not goodbye. Although I'm leaving the Beacon Journal to relax and take a break from deadline journalism, I'll still be writing my weekly Internet newsletter, Second Helpings. And don't miss this Sunday's Premier section, where I'll take a look back at 25 years of sometimes wacky food happenings in the Akron area. Also, watch for announcements of an open house next month, where I'll show you how to make some holiday foods and introduce our new food writer.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Say goodbye to Mike Needs

There will be a farewell party for Mike Needs on Thursday, October 26. Friends are going to drag him away from his bicycle from 7 to 9: p.m. at Larry's on W. Market St. in Akron. We'll have hors d'oeuvres, munchies and soft drinks available for those who can come.

For those of you who aren't aware, Larry's was the Thursday night watering hole for the newsroom. After the paper was out, of course.

Tom working in Florida again

Tom Moore is in Florida again, working for former Beacon Journal Sports Editor Tom Giffen. Giffen, 57, is the owner of Roy Hobbs Baseball, a national organization that provides formal competition for adult men and women.There are about 400 teams spread across virtually every state.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mercury News to axe up to 101,

Mercury News to axe up to 101, including 15 percent of newsroom
The San Jose Mercury News plans to lay off as many as 101 employees over the next two months to cut costs and make up for declining advertising revenue, the paper said Friday.

The company will eliminate 41 newsroom positions - or about 15 percent of its editorial staff - by Dec. 19, with the rest of the cuts coming from other departments, including circulation, finance, marketing and human resources, said Dan Breeden, a Mercury News spokesman.

The cuts, which officials say will be made mostly through layoffs, will sever about 8 percent of the paper's overall workforce. About 10 to 15 currently open positions across the company could be included in those cuts, Breeden said.

Also Friday, the new publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News told employees that layoffs are "unavoidable."

Source: AP via SPJ Press Notes and Editor & Publisher

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Off-Beat Story: O.K. Corral

Thursday will mark the 125th anniversary of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. On Oct. 26, 1881, building tension between the Earps, who represented law and order in Tombstone, and the Clantons and McLaurys, cattle rustlers and outlaws, erupted into a bloody confrontation.

Naturally there will be a big celebration at Tomstone. Click on the headline to read an off-beat story about the gunfighters on the BJ Retirees web site or go to the web site set up for the celebration at


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Merrill College to add Knight names

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation last month made a $4.4 million, multi-part grant to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. In recognition of this latest gift, and the foundation’s strong historical support of the university, the planned new state-of-the-art journalism building for the Merrill College will be named John S. and James L. Knight Hall, University President C.D. Mote Jr. announced ..

Construction is scheduled to start in early 2008. Part of the $4.4 million grant -- $2 million--will be added to an earlier $3 million building fund campaign gift from the foundation to name the building. The remaining $2.4 million will create the Knight Institute for the Future of Journalism, supporting operations of both the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and J-Lab, two professional development programs of the Merrill College. The Institute for the Future of Journalism, to be located within Knight Hall, also will house professional organizations and additional Knight programs, including, eventually, the Knight Chair in Journalism.

Click on the headline to real the full September announcement.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Foundation bid on BJ

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation submitted a bid this year to buy the Akron Beacon Journal., but the foundation decided to bow out after the asking price climbed too high, foundation President Alberto Ibarguen said at the Akron Roundtable Thursday.

``The price that was offered, the amount of money that was offered was, we thought, very significant, and ultimately it was our decision that it would have been unwise to go that high,'' Ibarguen said.

Black Press Ltd. of Canada ultimately bought the Beacon Journal for $165 million from the California-based McClatchy newspaper company, which had acquired the Beacon Journal when it bought Knight Ridder Inc. in June.

The Knight Foundation has a $2.2 billion endowment built on the Knight family's investments in newspapers and has invested about $100 million in the Akron area.

The foundation hoped to make the Beacon Journal a laboratory for new journalism ideas in the age of the Internet, drawing on the talents of the nation's major journalism schools.

``I don't know what we would have done, but the point is that it deserves experimentation, and what better place to do it than in a really good, live newsroom?'' Ibarguen said.

The setup might have been similar to that of Florida's St. Petersburg Times, which is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Click on the headline to read John Higgins story on the Beacon Journal business page.

Commentary on magic date

Tomorrow is the magic date ending the 60-day notice period. Surprisingly, it appears that only four or five of those laid off is still looking for a job.

That does not diminish in any way the horrible loss of talent.. Dennis Balogh, chief artist, was added today to the Blog Wall of Honor. The wall now includes 17 veteran staff members who resigned voluntarily–sometimes in hope of saving the job of a friend. The 17 had 291 years of service

The sports department, originally the hardest hit, escaped with all jobs saved. H
ow many newspapers can boast both a Sheldon Ocher and a Terry Pluto? BUT, despite pleas by many, Tom Reed will resign to accept a job as a features writer with the Columbus Dispatch.

The Beacon Journal also will lose Susan Kirkman who will go to Kent State in December to further her studies.

And here’s another paradox–even the personnel guy is leaving. Ed Kemp, vice president of human relations and general counsel, was scheduled to retire at the end of the year, but will retire early. His last day was Friday.

Linda Golz, subject of one of our first reports on layoffs (See the August 25 post) will return as a copy editor.

Balogh, Reed, Kirkman and Golz have all promised to send us more information so the “goodbye” posts will continue for a while.

The Guild is trying to firm up a list which will include some who were laid off and found jobs, some whose jobs were saved and those still looking for career changes.

The art department staff is an example of the difficulty in keeping up with changes. Rick Steinhauser was first laid off and Kathy Hagedorn went from full-time to part-time. Then Steinhauser was offered a job as paginator. He tried it out but did not like it. Then when Dennis resigned he was offered a job to return. He is still trying to decide. And Kathy apparently found she is satisfied just working part-time. [it is difficult to keep score]

And the Final Word: Mickey Porter was replaced today with a feature named “Names in the News.” that included a cutout of Sharon Osbourne and seven items pulled from wire reports. The last item carries the head:

And finally...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Knight Museum, U of Akron get funds

New multimillion-dollar investments in two high-profile projects in Akron by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation were announced today in a luncheon address at the Akron Roundtable by Alberto Ibargüen, president of Foundation..

* A $10 million grant to The University of Akron supports the University Park Alliance’s economic development plan to revitalize the downtown district. Those efforts are expected to bring 500 new housing units, create 1,000 new jobs, attract new businesses and mixed-use developments, improve the neighborhood’s infrastructure,
and incorporate innovative approaches to health and community education. The Alliance expects to draw additional investments of $500 million to $1 billion to the area in the coming years.

* With a total of $6 million contributed to the Akron Art Museum’s capital campaign, the museum’s board of trustees has decided to name its dramatic new building in honor of the Knight brothers. The 63,000-square-foot John S. and James L. Knight Building, designed by internationally renowned architects Coop Himmelb(l)au, opens July 15 2007 adjacent to the museum’s historic 1899 building.

“Jack and Jim Knight were passionate about community and journalism, and applied elsewhere in their news careers what they learned first here in Akron,” he said. “Strong civic and cultural institutions are leading the way in Akron, and their innovative work is a powerful model for other communities.”

Dr. W. Gerald Austen, chairman of Knight Foundation’s board of trustees and an Akron native, was pleased with the museum trustees’ agreement to put the Knight name on the expansion. “The Knight name has been synonymous with community leadership in Akron for nearly a century. This stellar addition to Akron’s cultural life sits in the same block as the city’s John S. Knight Center, assuring that generations of northeast Ohioans will associate the Knight name with quality in the arts and community.”

Immediately east of the Akron Art Museum, University Park encompasses 700 acres, with 400-plus businesses, 11,500 residents and 24,000 university students. Six years ago, Knight Foundation ignited a spark with $3 million in initial funding for the University Park Alliance — a partnership of The University of Akron, Summa Health System, the City of Akron, Akron Public Schools, the Greater Akron Chamber, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, University Park Development Corporation, The Beacon Journal and the foundation. That initial investment has since grown far beyond its original goals, leveraging more than $150 million in public and private investments in the five years since the Alliance’s founding.

“The leadership of the Knight brothers lives on in this wonderful investment in Akron’s future. The University of Akron will continue to invest in the revitalization of our neighborhood, University Park, by creating innovative ways to integrate health and learning throughout this vitally important community,” said Dr. Luis Proenza, president of The University of Akron. “This collaborative effort will transform Akron and provide a shining example to others in Northeast Ohio of how university-community partnerships provide the key to our economic future.”

In 2000, Knight Foundation initiated the Akron Art Museum’s capital campaign project with a $4 million lead gift, which inspired the museum’s trustees to be more ambitious in their goal. The foundation’s trustees approved an additional $2 million grant earlier this year.

The innovative new building is directly connected to the current Art Museum facility. The expansion triples the museum’s gallery space, and allows it to display for the first time extensive permanent installations of its collection. The expansion also adds a lecture hall, classroom, video orientation room, retail store, catering kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining and a grand lobby.

“The museum’s new Knight Building not only gives Akron a world-class cultural destination, it gives the city’s residents a place to experience a wealth of artistic expression,” said Ibargüen. “The expansion’s opening will be a transformational moment for this community and its citizens.”

Museum Director Mitchell Kahan added, “We are eager to open and bring Akron’s artistic legacy out of storage. With the new facilities, we’ll be able to provide expanded educational opportunities and really make Akron’s downtown a cultural hub for the entire region.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities, including Akron, where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since its founding in 1950, Knight Foundation has made more than 900 grants totaling nearly $91 million in Northeast Ohio. For more on Knight Foundation, visit www.knightfdn.org.

The Knight Foundation ended 2005 with assets of $2.07 billion.

See remarks by Ibargüen

See news release from Knight Foundation

See story in Beacon Journal by Betty Lin-Fisher

Salary pegged to revenue opposed

Controversial Boston Globe contract proposal heading for defeat

A controversial contract proposal at The Boston Globe, which for the first time ties proposed salary increases to the paper's revenue, may be headed for defeat, according to Boston Newspaper Guild President Dan Totten, who said the first returns from Wednesday's voting indicate a majority is opposing the measure.

"There has been a very strong 'No' sentiment thus far," said Totten, who said about 300 votes had been cast out of a potential 1,000 guild members.

In addition to the salary link, the revenue provision is based only on revenue from the print newspaper, not from its Web site, the profitable Boston.com, some guild leaders complain. Many of them oppose that restriction, noting that the contract also includes a new requirement for guild members to perform duties for the Web site.

Source: Joe Strupp. Editor & Publisher via SPJ Press Notes

Sarah's final P.S.

Beacon Journal editorial writer Sarah Vradenburg, a 22-year veteran of the newspaper, wrote her final PostScript on today's editorial page. Here it is:

On my first day at the Beacon Journal in 1984, I was escorted throughout the building and introduced, it seemed, to hundreds of people. Because my job was to chronicle the live
s of people who work here and events at the newspaper, it was an important tour. So many people I met had been here 10, 15, even 20 years. All I could think was: ``How do people stay in a job so long?''

Now I know: Show up for work every day. It helps when the people you work
with are smart, funny and passionate about their jobs. It helps even more when the job you do makes a difference to the community. I have been honored to be a part of this enterprise for nearly 23 years. I have been proud to wear the mantle first woven by John S. Knight so many decades ago, of truth-telling, of community engagement, of the highest ethical principles in the business of journalism.

I know we in Akron have mourned the demise of Knight Ridder perhaps more deeply than other cities with Knight newspapers. It was a part of us, born of one of our own. I won't pretend that I'm not angry at an economic system that favors shareholder value over the need to inform, that treats newspapers as just so many widgets. I won't deny that I've said, more than once, that if Jack Knight were alive, Knight Ridder would still be around. But that's wishful thinking. He was a businessman and a newsman. Who knows what might have been? All we have is what is.

I wrote my first ``editorial'' as a child, a naif's letter to the editor complaining about how politicians couldn't see beyond party lines to do what's right for the country. How little things have changed. I'm also amazed that I've been able to spend the past 15 years doing what I love -- writing opinion. I've made friends -- and enemies -- with the pieces that have borne my name. I appreciate most those who have disagreed with me without hiding behind the anonymity of voice mail and unsigned diatribes. Some would counter by saying we write unsigned editorials, but what we write carries the newspaper's name -- no small thing -- and individual writers' identities are just a phone call away. This country's greatness resides largely in our willingness to own our differing opinions. It's called reasoned debate.

Now it is time to move on. I look to my future with a mixture of excitement and sadness. I have plans that promise to be fun and make a positive contribution. Still, it is not possible to close a two-decade chapter without shedding a few tears. My colleagues are my family, but more important to you, those who remain here are among the best in the business. No matter how much the business of newspapering changes, they remain committed to bringing you the best in news and opinion. Jack Knight's town deserves nothing less.

Before I came to work here, I was actively involved in many facets of my adopted hometown. I plan to rejoin the ranks of citizen activist. This is far from goodbye. I'll be seeing you.

Editorial writer emeritus

Beacon, Ohio.com link with Monster.com

The Akron Beacon Journal and its Web site, Ohio.com, are joining forces with online jobs recruiter Monster.com.

Monster.com, the nation's largest online jobs site, will replace the newspaper's current online jobs partner, CareerBuilder.com, in mid-November.

CareerBuilder was a joint venture of newspaper companies Gannett Co., Tribune Co., and the Beacon Journal's former parent company, Knight Ridder.,

``We made a clear decision to partner with leaders. Monster is clearly that,'' said Ed Moss, Beacon Journal publisher. The Beacon Journal, Ohio.com and Monster.com eventually want to extend their online reach into all of Ohio, he said.

Monster.com in August inked a deal with Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and the Web site Philly.com. About five years ago, Monster.com partnered with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, shortly after the then-struggling paper was bought by Black Press Ltd.

``We were just sort of testing the waters,'' said David Black, president of privately owned Black Press. ``The Star-Bulletin was effectively being launched.''

The Star-Bulletin is planning to upgrade and re-launch its online advertising partnership with Monster.com in early 2007, said Glenn Zuehls, director of advertising at the newspaper.

Click on the headline to read the full story which was printed on the Business front of the BJ today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Final Word on Mickey Porter

Mickey Porter wrote his last column for Thursday, October 19, but he did not get the Final Word.

Here’s what Porter wrote:

The Final Word
Because of the newsroom staff reduction, this column is being discontinued after today. It’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for your support through the years.

~Mickey Porter

Here’s the word he got from Mitch:

Subject:: last word, last column

From: "Mitch Mckenney"
Date:Wed, 18 Oct 2006 16:54:45 -0400

hi mickey,
mizell's going to use your last word in a handoff sunday, so the column running thursday ends with the AARP item.
sorry we're losing you. we'll cobble together a column to fill the space, but it won't be the same.
-- mitch

Mitch McKenney
Features Editor
Akron Beacon Journal
44 E. Exchange St.
Akron, OH 44328
fax 330-996-3695

Here’s Porter’s e-mail to the Managing Editor:

From: "Mickey Porter"
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 19:35:32
To:"Mizell Stewart"
Subject: mickey porter

Mizell, why couldn't I say goodbye like everyone else? I thought I
handled it gracefully. Do you disagree? Are you going to say the column
is a casualty of the staff reduction? I certainly hope so, because
anything else would be dishonest. I am not retiring. I am being asked to
leave. The readers should know that.

Here’s Mizell’s reply:

Subject: Re: mickey porter
From: Mizell Stewart
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 19:47:20 -0400
To:'Mickey Porter'

I'm going to say exactly that - and offer a few kind parting words of my own
- in my Sunday column.

On another topic: Are you ready to return to work in your new classification
of reporter?

Let's talk Thursday.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Not likely.

Layoff Auction raises $735

The raffle is declared over.

It raised $735.

I'm gratified by the participation of people who will be here doing good work, fighting on and not letting the effects of Tony Ridder the Wrecker kill what JSK entrusted to us.

I want to give special thanks to three people and thank all the rest who bought tickets.

Retired TV editor John Olesky bought $200 in tickets and, not surprisingly, won a couple of prizes.

Retired news editor Tom Moore sent me $100 and didn't really want any tickets, but I suspect he'll be pleased to get a couple of ‘‘Courtesy of Fran Murphey’’ matchbooks and some other tokens of appreciation.

A longtime employee who wishes to remain anonymous also gave me $100 and was pleased to get a couple of Murphey matchbooks

Thanks also to retiree Dick McBane for donating his 1971 Pulitzer Prize pewter key-chain medallion

Incidentally, those leaving -- either forcibly or as a ‘‘quitty quitterface,’’ as copy desk wag Darrin Werbeck has affectionately dubbed volunteer Debbie Stock Kiefer -- have been cleaning out their desks and have left me some great stuff should we have to have another raffle.

~Chas Montague

Click on the headline to see list of winners.

Debby leaves with good taste in mouth

Recipes of her colleagues provide a tasty "goodbye" column for Debby Stock Keifer's Recipe Roundup on the E1 Food front. Here are the headlines and lead of her column:

Debby leaves with good taste in mouth

Her final Roundup corrals most fun and tasty recipes the Beacon staff can offer

In my 28 years at the Beacon Journal, the best thing about my job on the copy desk has been my co-workers.

These are smart, witty folks who love to crack wise -- and who appreciate any excuse to celebrate with food. If anyone in the newsroom is hungry, the copy desk is the place to check for eats.

In addition to marking departures and celebrating weddings, babies and holidays, copy desk feasts have included anti-Valentine's Day (contributions included raspberry fool, heart candies bearing insults and a box of smashed chocolates), prom night, baseball night, a pseudo slumber party and green food night (you don't want to know).

We don't have a dress code, but over the years we have instituted a number of important rules: New employees have to bring rookie cookies, departing workers are to bring deserter's dessert, and folks who leave and come back bring boomerang brownies.

So to honor my co-workers over the years -- not all of them copy editors -- here are some great recipes they've shared with me.

Two of the colleagues have moved on, some remain and one, like me, volunteered to leave the paper to cut the number of layoffs announced Aug. 22.

This is my last Recipe Roundup column. I enjoyed tracking down recipes and corresponding with you, and appreciated your kind words in the last three years.

Recipe Roundup won't retire with me, however. Someone will take it over, so continue to send in your recipes and requests. If you're still waiting to see your recipe or request in the paper, you don't need to resubmit it; I'll turn over my files to my successor.

Now for the good stuff.

The remainder of the column includes two full columns of receipes from Andrea Louie, Carla J. Davis, John Higgins, Betty Lin-Fisher, Monica Thomas, Elaine Guregian and two from a book gift from Kathy Spitz. Click on the headline for the recipes.

Recipes can still be sent to Recipe Roundup, Akron Beacon Journal, PO Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640 or to deptuty features editor Lynne Shwerin at lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Knight Foundation offers grants

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is offering $5 million in the "Knight Brothers 21st Century News Challenge" contest, the first part of a planned $25 million investment over the next five years in "community news projects."

The contest wants ideas that combine new media with news values to help connect and build communities: "Newspapers have long defined the communities we live in. They shape how we think about community and how we understand what's happening on our block or around the world. But as digital media increasingly becomes the way we receive and share news, who will perform this community function? Who will do in the 21st century what our founders, the Knight brothers, did with their newspapers in the last century?"

The Challenge's Web site, with an online application form, is at www.newschallenge.org. The competition will accept applications through Dec. 31, and expects to begin announcing winners in the spring of 2007. "Anybody, anywhere around the world can enter. Just as long as you've got an innovative idea that uses the digital world to connect people in the real world. That's the only rule," according to a Knight press release.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Massey returns to Lexington

Delano Massey will start work Monday at the Lexington.(KY) Herald Leader.

“I'm going to be an investigative reporter.” Massey writes. “Should be a lot of fun. I actually worked in Lexington before I went to the Beacon Journal. I was a cops reporter, then started
digging into some much bigger impact stories, including an investigative piece about abuse of the police/fire disability pension system. I will continue working on articles like the pension story and whatever else comes to surface after I poke around a bit.

“I don't really know what to make of the layoffs. I've never been in a situation like that -- and hope to never face such a situation again. But I'm young in my career -- in my fifth year as a
professional. I thought about walking away from the business, but I think I have quite a few more bylines left in me. I always try to find the positive in any event. I feel as though God just had a different plan for me and Akron wasn't the place I was supposed to be in order to complete this mission. I was fortunate enough to land on my feet and I am eager to move forward in my career. The past year was rough because I wasn't really sure what was going to happen with Knight Ridder. I'm glad I was able to get some closure and peace of mind. I like being in control of my fate as best as I can. I felt like we were at the mercy of the big executives and that wasn't much fun. I want to get back to having fun.”

Click on the headline to read Massey's "goodbye" column publishes September 10

Less than dozen covering Iraq

The number of embedded journalists reporting alongside U.S. troops in Iraq has dropped to its lowest level of the war even as the conflict heats up on the streets of Baghdad and in the U.S. political campaign.In the past few weeks, the number of journalists reporting assigned to U.S. military units in Iraq has settled to below two dozen. Late last month, it fell to 11, its lowest, and has rebounded only slightly since.

During the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 600 reporters, TV crews and photographers linked up with U.S. and British units. A year ago, when Iraqis went to the polls to ratify a new constitution, there were 114 embedded journalists.

"This is more than pathetic," said Sig Christenson, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and president of Military Reporters and Editors, a journalists' group. "It strikes me as dangerous" for the American public to get so little news of their military, said Christenson, who recently returned from an embedded assignment in Iraq.

Source: SPJ Press Notes: Lee Keath and Robert H. Reid. AP via Yahoo! NewS

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Approaching 300,000,000 Americans

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population of the United States will reach 300,000,000 on Tuesday morning, 17 October 2006. Click on the headline to see the current population of the United States.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Quiz on the Blog Wall of Honor

Testing your knowledge on the top 15 resignations at the BJ

Here’s a quiz on the 15 Beacon Journal staffers who have resigned voluntarily so far. If you answer all 15 correctly, you are wasting way too much time peering at a computer screen. If you miss all but one, you will be laid off in 60 days. Questions are repeated again with the answers on our web site. You can just click on the headline to go straight to the quiz. Here are the questions:

1. Who received double time pay the first day on the job at the BJ?

2. Who had a religious nickname?

3. Who had her first byline initialed by JSK?

4. Who was “best person in the door in 20 years,” according to one co-worker?

5. Whose father was a Beacon Journal editor?

6. Who confused the blog guy the most?

7. Who married another BJ staffer?

8. Who tied for second place in the number of years of service at 28 years?

9. Who was the first resignation reported on the blog?

10. Who did not want a long article on the blog about her going to work for the Chicago Tribune?

11. Who has a bird’s name?

12. She is one of two on the list doing the same kind of job at the BJ?

13, Who is studying for her state board in counseling?

14, Who wrote most of the BJ stories on the demise of Knight Ridder?

15. Who has the best smile and sells craft items?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Robin Sallie is moving on

Robin Sallie is one of two veteran BJ photographers who have resigned since the layoffs were announced. The other is Jocelyn Williams.

Here’s the word from Robin.

I don't know where I will be or what I will be doing yet. I am moving to either MN or AZ with my wife, Roxana.

I am happy to have jumped off of the sinking ship. I was there for 12 years and at one time did every job in the photo department except director of photography.

It will be interesting to see what the future will bring for me but I am sure it will not be in newspapers.

~Robin Tinay Sallie

Analysis: Political ads but scant coverage

Do you hate those political ads on TV? There are plenty of 30-second political ads favoring a particular candidate, but a mere 35 seconds of election coverage during a half-hour news broadcast in Cleveland or Columbus. The Midwest News Index shows more time spent on teasers and introducing news segments than on acutal election coverage..

The five-state analysis by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's NewsLab looked at 30-minute evening news broadcasts on 36 stations.

Studies show that most people rely on TV news reports to get most of their election information, but that they don't learn much from those reports, said Ken Goldstein, a UW-Madison political science professor who directs the NewsLab.

Go to our web site to see the report on the study along with a table showing how much time is spent on various subjects during a 30-minute broadcast.

Kathy Spitz: A final visit to JSK room

Kathy Spitz, a Beacon Journal staff member for 22 years–starting part-time in 1999–is studying for her state board in counseling. She earned a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Akron and is now working on her doctorate. Kathy is married to David Lipkin, a CPA with offices on White Pond Drive.. They have two children, Benjamin, 7, and Grace 5.

Here are Kathy’s thoughts on her resignation:

I have so many mixed feelings about resigning from the BJ. I had many good years there, many days where I went to the office and thought, "And to think, I'm getting paid for having fun!" But after the 2001 layoffs, the tone in the newsroom began to change; I'm not sure it ever re
covered fully.

By the time this current round of layoffs hit, I was ready to go. I have young children to raise, a busy CPA husband who welcomes the idea of my help in his office during tax season, and a yearning to try different activities. I earned my master's in counseling 11/2 years ago, and always want to keep my hand in writing, though I won't miss daily journalism.

I will miss so many people, though, and know that if any group of folks can make the most of limited staff and money, my former colleagues can. So much talent still left! My former colleagues deserve better than this financial bloodletting.

One final note: the weekend before my last week of work, I took my second-grader to the Beacon Journal; he "wanted to say goodbye to the newsroom."

I took my son to the John S. Knight room, and showed him the mural of the man who started it all.

``Mom, he wouldn't be happy about this,'' my son told me.

Couldn't say it any better, myself.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

JSK fellowship won't return Yahoo gift

The John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University says it has no plans to return a $1 million grant from Yahoo, despite a spirited debate over the company's record on freedom of expression. But the director of the fellowship said the program is considering holding a forum to engage Yahoo and other media companies about operating in repressive countries.

Yahoo intended the donation to 'demonstrate our support for freedom of expression,' said a spokeswoman, but it has instead revived attention to the company's controversial practices in China, where it has turned over user information to Chinese authorities. The Sunnyvale company has supplied information to Chinese law enforcement that led to the arrests of two journalists and two other Chinese dissidents, according to Human Rights Watch.

'We are giving some protective color to Yahoo and helping it to atone,' Peter Sussman, a freelance journalist and author in Berkeley who was a Knight fellow in 1978, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to other alums on a discussion list. 'To look a gift horse in the mouth, atonement comes cheap these days.'

Announced in late September, the Yahoo money over the next decade will annually bring one international journalist to Stanford from countries where the news media is restricted. Recipients, chosen by the directors of the Knight Fellowship, will be designated as both a Knight fellow and Yahoo international fellow.

Jim Bettinger, the program's director, said he understands the concerns many alums have expressed but remains firm about accepting the donation.

'I don't think it'd be possible to read this as us endorsing what Yahoo did in China,' he said. 'We thought it was appropriate that Yahoo, one of the world's largest news providers, step up and take responsibility for improving the craft of journalism.'

Click on the headline to read the full story in the San Jose Mercury News.

Leach named assistant KSU professor

Reprinted from a section on new faculty in the Fall 2006 issue of Jargon, the alumni newsletter of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University:

Jan Leach has been named assistant professor, a tenure-track position. She recently earned a master's degree in journalism ethics from Kent State and will teach copy editing and ethics.
Leach, the former editor of the Akron Beacon journal, had been a professional in residence at JMC and is an ethics fellow at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Leach coordinated the second annual Poynter-KSU Media Ethics Workshop May 18 at the Stark Professional Education and Conference Center. The workshop offers affordable, timely ethics training for professionals who cannot make it to The Poynter Institute in Florida for seminars but who are concerned about ethics development on the job. This year, 61 journalists participated, beating the goal of 50.

Five newspaper publishers co-sponsored the event with JMC: The Plain Dealer, Akon Beacon journal, The Columbus Dispatch, The (Toledo) Blade and Copley Ohio Newspapers which include The (Canton) Repository. As one participant noted on the evaluation form, the event was “a bargain way to have a Poynter experience.”

11 attend retirees lunch

Tom Moore, who will be off to Florida next Wednesday for five weeks. reports 11 retirees were at the regular monthly meeting of Beacon Journal retirees on Wednesday at Papa Joe's in the Valley. One who has not attended for awhile.was retired engraver Pat Doughtery. Pat is no longer working at Acme on State Road, but is now custodian at his church, so he can now pretty much set his own hours. Most of the talk, Moore reports, was about layoffs at the BJ and buyouts at the Plain Dealer and who is going, who has gone and who might go. Tom forgot his camera, so there are no photos.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bill Sloat: Buyout at PD after 20 years

Here's an update from former Beacon Journal reporter Bill Sloat, one of those who took a buyout at the Plain Dealer:

I have been in Cincinnati for over 20 years as the Plain Dealer's one-person bureau covering the Midwest and the state. One son has finished college, one is halfway through, and another is getting ready to start in a few years. My wife, France Griggs, is a p.r. lady for Xavier University and the kids can go for free to Jesuit schools, plus a few hundred others that do tuition exchange like the Univesity of Florida.

II have loved my job with the Plain Dealer, but, as we all know, the newspaper biz looks not to have much of a future. I think that the industry has been way too focused on publishing. Perhaps it should be thinking about "information," which can be gathered, sorted and distributed now without much of an investment in publishing.

So I think we are already into an era of breaking the rules of normal thinking and the publishing/media companies -- as others have said -- loath risk and have systems in place to stifle or discourage innovation. In other words, what's been the normal environment for years is having the air sucked out of it now, and nobody seems to know what to do about it.

I was just in San Francisco and saw the Tower Records shops on Columbus Avenue going out of business. They used to be stocked with vinyl. Then they made the switch to CDs, a new technology that replaced vinyl. Then came the iPods and blew past CDs. Change arrived so fast that an entire industry croaked before it knew what hit it.

I'm afraid I can see that happening to newspapers. It seemed that in San Fran hardly anybody read the Chronicle anymore. It was passe.

So, I'm going to take my buyout and try to figure out how to stay in the information business, which still has value. Maybe a Web site. Maybe something with a group that needs to share info -- sort of like Romenesko, who serves a small but important community. Maybe teach. I plan to stay busy, though.

I've enrolled in college again and am quite energized. I'm sad that the news biz we all knew is down. But the change can also spur creative risk taking.


His e-mail address for the moment is bsloat@plaind.com

Ex-Pressman union president John Darr dies

John F. Darr, 88, passed away Oct. 9, 2006.

He was born June 9, 1918 in Akron. He was stationed in England during World War II, serving in the U.S. Army Air Force as a ball turret gunner and flew 34 missions. John was a member of the 100th Bomb Group and attended many of their functions. He retired from the Akron Be
acon Journal after working as a pressman and was a former president of Union Local #42-C. He formerly attended Lockwood United Methodist Church and recently attended The Chapel in Akron. He also enjoyed being a pilot and carpenter.

John was preceded in death by his parents, Fredrick and Dorethea; brothers, Dick and Jim; and son, Robert. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Luella Fern; sons, Fredrick and Larry (Debra); daughter, Susan (Larry) Hutchison; sister, Mary Jane Hutchison; grandchildren, Ronald, Jennifer, and Joshua; and five great-grandchildren.

Friends may call at the Bacher Funeral Home, 3326 Manchester Rd., TODAY from 5 to 9 p.m., where services will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m., Pastor Bud Couts officiating. Interment at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Chapel Hill Community, 12200 Strausser St. N.W., Canal Fulton, OH 44614, in memory of John. Funeral home map, directions, and the Darr Family condolence book are available at www.bacherfuneralhome.com. (Bacher, 330-644-0024.)

[The Beacon Journal,, Akron, OH, Wednesday, October 11, 2006, page B6,.col.3]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Crutchfield to teach in Arizona

Former Akron Beacon Journal Publisher James N. Crutchfield will spend the spring semester of 2007 as the first Edith Kinney Gaylord visiting professor in journalism ethics at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Crutchfield, 58, served as publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal from April 2001 until July 2006, when he stepped down following the sale of the newspaper to Black Press Ltd. of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

A graduate of Duquesne University, Crutchfield worked for the Pittsburgh Press and Detroit Free Press before serving as press secretary for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., for two years. Following that, Crutchfield returned to the Free Press, where he held a variety of positions, including deputy managing editor.

He came to the Beacon Journal in 1989 as managing editor and served until 1993, when he became executive editor of the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, Calif. In 1997, Crutchfield joined Philadelphia Newspapers as an assistant to the publisher.

He returned to Akron in 2000 as general manager of the paper.

Click on the headline to read the full story.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hopefully we can keep reading Mary

Those of us who are used to reading Mary Ethridge in the Beacon Journal hope we will still be able to find her words somewhere else–and hopefully that will be possible.

“I've decided to take a stab at making a living through freelance writing.,” Mary writes. “I plan on doing corporate work such as annual reports and brochures as well as magazine an
d Web writing. I'll be working out of my home, so I'll have more time to spend with my 17 year old, She's a junior at St. V and we're starting to look at colleges for her. If anyone there has an "in" at an admissions office, let me know!”

My cell phone is 330-687-2445 and email is maryethridge@gmail.co
m. I'd love to hear from some fellow long timers.

Best wishes,


[Mary is the daughter of the late Mark Ethridge, who was editor first at the Detroit Free Press and then at the Beacon Journal from 1973 to 1976 when he resigned to teach in the journalism department at the University of South Carolina. He died in March, 1985.. Mary is married to Mark Williamson, who is Mayor Don Plusquellic’s press secretary and the city’s communications director. Mark was news director and anchor of WAKC-TV for nearly two decades before joining the mayor’s staff in April, 1996. Their daughter’s name is Grace.]

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jocelyn works toward finance career

Jocelyn Williams started at the Beacon Journal as a staff photographer on Nov. 3,
1986, coming from the Lexington Herald-Leader in Ky. She worked at the BJ for 20 years before going part-time part-time in 2005.

“I decided to take a voluntary resignation when the company started the layoffs/job cuts.” Jocelyn writes. “I've been attending Cuyahoga Community College since 2005 working towards a Mortgage Finance certificate. I plan on getting a job in banking as a mortgage consultant.I've always had side jobs (I'm also a landlord), and I will continue moonlighting my way towards some interesting opportunities-- maybe start my own business.

Parting shots: Invest in yourself, create a side job that you can grow into something substantial.”


Jocelyn's e-mail address is: joce809@earthlink.net

Friday, October 06, 2006

Auction report due next week

Chuck Montague reports the raffle for the Layoff Auction went well and people are claiming their winnings. We will get a report about Tuesday or Wednesday when Mntaguee receives all the names and a total. Check the web site for a list of the items that were being auctioned.

L..A. Times Publisher Johnson Forced Out

The Tribune Co. forced out Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson this morning [Thursday, Oct 5] , a little more than a month after he defied the media conglomerate's demands for staff cuts that he suggested could damage the newspaper.

Tribune Publishing President Scott C. Smith huddled with top managers at the newspaper this morning and announced that David Hiller, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, would immediately replace Johnson as chief executive at the 125-year-old newspaper. Hiller is the 12th publisher of The Times.

"After a thorough review, Jeff and I agreed that he should resign at this time," Smith said in a statement. "We do agree on many priorities to best serve our customers, communities and shareholders. The Times' has also made great progress on many fronts in the face of intense marketplace challenges. However, this leadership change is necessary because of important differences on how best to shape our future."

Hiller was expected to ask Times Editor Dean Baquet to stay on the job, despite the editor's sharp protests against further job cuts by the Chicago-based parent corporation. Friends of Baquet said the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist had not yet decided to remain with the paper.

Source: James Rainey, LA Times.. Click on headline to read full story.

Today is Mike's last day

Today is the last day for Mike Needs. His title was design editor, but before that he was public editor. He has served the Beacon Journal well in many tasks in the past. Since his first days he has has truly been the newspaper's design editor. Here are his parting observations:

For me, the future is the great unknown. I'm jumping out of the plane witho
ut really knowing whether the parachute will open, or even whether there is a parachute. But, that's okay. I had the choice of continuing with the relative comfort of what I have always done - versus the opportunity to challenge myself to try something new. I chose the latter. I have no regrets.

At age 55, I'm inclined to separate myself completely from traditional media and p.r. work is out of the question. I've long had a strong interest in online possibilities and I may pursue something in that area. I really don't know.

Meanwhile, I'm proud of my association with the Akron Beacon Journal. As an institution, it provided for me both materially and professionally. It has been good to me and I will not allow its problems of the present obscure my appreciation for all it has done for me in the past.

One thing I truly will miss, though, is the daily intellectual stimulation of interacting with quality people who live to question and challenge. Newspaper people are the best.

My personal e-mail address is mikeneeds@hotmail.com


How well has the press covered torture?

How well has the press covered torture?

The BJ Retirees web site is no place for politics. So why would we post a column by Molly Ivins, a Texas gal known as a Bush-basher? The column carries the headline:

Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)

Charlie Buffum, our New Yorker operative, e-mails us with stuff which he finds interesting-- but he is not twisting our arm to get Molly into print. Our excuse for posting the colum is that the subject of her column has been grabbing a lot of attention in the Columbia Journalism Review.

In the latest edition of CJR, Eric Umansky tackles the thorny issue of how the press has covered the slow-brewing torture scandal that has riled the American military and intelligence services. While currently a Gordon Grey Fellow at the Columbia School of Journalism, Umansky has written for the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. For updates on his work, you can also check out his blog, EricUmansky.com.

Click on the headline to read the CJR article.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Journalists older, pay sluggish

The typical U.S. journalist is a 41-year-old while male with more than a decade of experience who works in a newsroom with about 50 colleagues and earns $44,000 a year.

If that seems like an unremarkable composite, that's because it represents a demographically stagnating media workplace that is aging noticeably and diversifying at a snail's pace. Those are the findings of the new edition of "The American Journalist," the major academic research study of the characteristics of American newsrooms, published every ten years since the 1970s.

"If you looked at another industry that hasn't grown much since the 1970s...you might find similar kinds of demographic patterns," says professor David Weaver, co-author of "The American Journalist in the 21st Century: U.S. News People at the Dawn of a New Millennium." At the spine of the newest edition of the book is a telephone survey of 1,149 journalists that probes questions Weaver and his co-authors have been following since 1971, 1982-83, 1992 and for the latest survey 2002.

Click on the headline to read more about the study.

You can triple your fun with Dyer

Bob Dyer appears for the first time today in his expanded role as a Beacon Journal columnist on the front of the local section.

His regular column "Dyer Streets" will continue its run on Fridays, but Dyer also will have general columns on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Exposure to Dyer three times a week ought to be fun and interesting.

R. W. Apple dies: The Akron connection

The Akron connection of R.W. “Johnny” Apple is well documented in his obituary in the New York Times which ran for 47 graphs in the version I read.

The headline:

R.W. Apple, a Times Journalist in Full, Dies at 71

The lead graph

R. W. Apple Jr., who in more than 40 years as a correspondent and editor at The New York Times wrote about war and revolution, politics and government, food and drink, and the revenge of living well from more than 100 countries, died early this morning in Washington. He w
as 71.

The Akron connection:

Raymond Walter Apple Jr. was born Nov. 20, 1934, in Akron, Ohio. His father, also known as Johnny — nicknamed for Johnny Appleseed — ran a chain of grocery stores that had been founded by the family of Mr. Apple’s mother, the former Julia Albrecht. The senior Apple had hoped his only son would take over the business, but an early encounter with Th
e New York Times in the Akron public library gave Mr. Apple other ideas. [They lived on Storer Ave.]

At Western Reserve Academy, a private prep school in Hudson, Ohio, Mr. Apple was sports editor of the student newspaper and editor in chief of the yearbook. He continued his journalistic training in college, on The Daily Princetonian at Princeton. Twice expelled for neglecting his studies at Princeton, he eventually earned a B.A. in history magna cum laude from Columbia University’s School of General Studies in 1961.

Beacon Journal reporter George M. Thomas adds in his obit:

“When he returned to Akron he usually stopped by Swensons. . .He even named Swensons one of the top 35 places to eat in a Forbes magazine article."

You can Google to learn more about his career but one of the newspapers where he worked, the Wall Street Journal, is not picked up in a Google search, apparently because you have to pay to read the WSJ on line. Click on the headline to read the Times obit.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Diane Evans to head new media endeavor

Diane Evans is leaving the Beacon Journal to be president of SunLit Syndicate and its DelMio Web site. She will oversee business and creative development for the new online media company, which will produce highly specialized multi-media content related to books and reading. Diane is majority owner of the new company, which has been a joint effort on the part of several Beacon Journal colleagues and local business people. The DelMio site will be distributed through public libraries and other organizations that want to add value to members and/or customers.

Diane began her tenure at the Akron Beacon Journal in 1974. As editor of Ellet High's school's newspaper, Diane had met and interviewed the late Beacon Journal education editor Helen Carringer. It was Helen who helped Diane get a start at the Beacon Journal, through a program involving Akron public schools. As a high school senior, Diane had been given an opportunity to spend three weeks at the Beacon Journal. That was in February 1974. She managed to hang around the rest of the school year, and get hired that June for a Saturday copy-running job. Her first byline in the Beacon Journal appeared on Aug. 24, 1974 -- on her 18th birthday. Mr. John S. Knight initialed a copy of that first story. Diane became a full-time staff writer in 1978. Her experience includes seven years as the paper's education writer, eight years as an editorial writer and nine years as a local business columnist. In more recent years, Diane wrote a "livingwell" column that was distributed weekly to nearly 500 newspapers by Knight Ridder Tribune syndicate.

Since April, Diane has been on a leave of absence, devoting full attention to the development of SunLit Syndicate.

Diane is a graduate of The University of Akron, with a bachelor's degree in political science. She is also a frequent speaker throughout Northeast Ohio and has made numerous appearances on radio and television talk shows in the Cleveland and
Akron area.

Gina Giffels is a winner

David Giffels, who probably has to do other stuff now besides writing a Beacon Journal column, may have been scooped on the front of the Food Section today..

Wife Gina got a big splash on the front (Her photo was included) just for making a baked salami and cheese sandwich. However it wasn’t your ordinary salami and cheese; it was Grandma Lucia’s baked salami and cheese sandwich and that makes all the difference.

Gina was one of eight area cooks who walked away with prizes Saturday in Acme’s Family Meals and Memories Recipe Contest. All 14 semifinalists will see their recipes in a Family Meals and Memories Cookbook due out next year. Gina won second prize and a $500 gift card.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kavanagh headed to CNN in Atlanta

Veteran copy editor and former copy desk chief Jim Kavanagh is headed to CNN.com in Atlanta.

Here is Jim’s report:

My last day at the Beacon is Friday the 13th of October. I start at CNN on Nov. 6. In my position as a web writer, I will draw on information from wire services, CNN reporters and affili
ate stations and crystallize it into news stories to be posted on the web site. I'll write my own headlines, choose and crop photos, write the cutlines, and find related stories and video and create links to them. Once in a blue moon they might have me do some original reporting and earn a byline.

This is a great fit for me because I get to keep doing copy editing work that I'm g
ood at, I get to write again for the first time in 20 years, and I don't have to do the reporting, which I always hated back in the day. I will also be concentrating on national, world and political stories, which are interesting to me, and not have to pay for it by editing recipes and lists and cop blotters.

When it looked as if I might be laid off, I thought a lot about getting out of the busin
ess, but it's kind of in my blood. My dad was a copyboy and cub reporter at the Detroit News before moving on to other things, and his father was a reporter and city editor at the News in the 1920s and '30s. My dad's maternal grandfather owned a print shop in Bay City, Mich., and founded the Bay City Democrat newspaper. But I can't say it was inevitable that I would go into this business; I have 10 siblings who didn't.

I started at the Beacon on the last day of 1991 (earning double time on Day 1 and adding a year to my vacation seniority!) after five years at Knight-Ridder's Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel. Joette Riehle made me deputy copy desk chief in 1992, and I became chief in October 1999. I resigned as chief and returned to the rim in 2005; I was planning to go to grad school and knew I couldn't devote enough time to it if I stayed in management. I haven't started grad school yet, but I have been teaching a copy editing class at Kent State, which I will now have to hand off to someone. (Any takers out there?)

There's a whole spiritual side to this story that I'm not telling in this space, but maybe someday I'll take a run at it. God bless Beaconites everywhere. I'm praying for you.


Blogger End Note: Kavanagh pushes our wall of honor total to 15 volunteers with 270 years of service. Check out the wall.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Auction Note and Bandy update

A couple of random news notes:

Layoff Auction is Thursday
Chuck Montague reports the Layoff Auction drawing will be Thursday at 2 p.m. So hurry and get in on the win. Click on Auction Items to go to the list or send e-mail to

Don Bandy to be in town
Retired BJ rewrite veteran Don Bandy will be back in Akron on October 21 to attend the wedding of a neice. Bandy sold his Akron home and moved to Florida several months ago. An update on his Florida hiding place should be posted soon after his visit.

Sandy Klepach lands job
Sandy Klepach will begin a nighttime cops reporting job this week at the News-Herald in Mentor. "My duties,: she writes, "will be similar to those I held as a student correspondent at the Beacon Journal." The best e-mail address for her is sklepach@kent.edu

Van Tassel to head PD features

Here’s a capsule of a PD report on former BJ staffer Debbie Van Tassel:

Debbie Van Tassel, an experienced editor with a penchant for innovation, is The Plain Dealer's new assistant managing editor for features.

She will oversee a staff of about 50 people who produce the daily Arts & Life section as well as many special feature sections, including Travel, Taste, Sunday Arts, PDQ, Friday magazine, Inside & Out and the Sunday Homes sections.

She starts her new job today, replacing Karen Sandstrom, who is choosing to step down from an editor's role to return to writing.

Van Tassel, 52, came to The Plain Dealer as business editor in 1999 [from the Beacon Journal] after serving as an editor at newspapers in Akron, Seattle and Philadelphia. She said she believes great newspapers are full of surprises.

"They tell people what they don't know they want to know," she said.

"Debbie is a talented and veteran editor," said Plain Dealer Managing Editor Tom O'Hara. "She's skilled at managing people, developing ideas and editing the copy. As the editor of our revamped Monday paper, Debbie has been a leader in exploring new, reader-friendly ways to tell stories and convey information."

She lives in Hudson with her husband of 24 years, Stuart Warner, The Plain Dealer's enterprise editor and writing coach. In her free time, she likes golfing and gardening. They have a 22-year-old daughter [Denise}, who lives in New York City.

Click on the headline to read more about Debbie. See the blog archives for an earlier post on her promotion on April 28, 2005.

New career move for Gevalt

Former Beacon Journal business editor Geoff Gevalt has left his job as managing editor at the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press to head the Vermont Young Writers Project. Gevalt worked for eight plus years at the Free Press--the last six as managing editor. He also has his own blog called the Editor’s Blog. Click on the headline to go there.

Here’s Geoff’s reply to an update request:

This summer I lept off the cliff when a group approached me (out of the blue) with an offer I couldn't refuse: a two-year grant with health benefits, ample cash
and lots of in-kind support to work full-time on a zany project I started at The Burlington Free Press in 2003. Called the Young Writers Project, its cornerstone is a weekly newspaper feature that aims to help kids learn how to write better. I've also taught myself the Web geek stuff Harry loves so much and built an interactive Web site at www.youngwritersproject.org.

Each week we have new content that has three elements: Something on writing by a professional writer or top teacher; exceptional student writing selected by students from submissions from students; and a piece of visual art by a student. The Web site publishes the same material plus additional content and more student writing; it also has student blogs, forums, group book writing and, soon, podcasting and digital storytelling.

It is a lot of fun to be out on my own. While I miss journalism, and cranky journalists, I don't miss what journalism has become -- cutbacks, declining circulation and a reduced appetite for meaty projects. I remain both a cynic and hopeless idealist, so I believe that this project has the potential of connecting newspapers to young people (largely through NIE and the kids getting their work published) and stimulating a few future journalists who can, perhaps, devise a different way of doing things.

I've been at it on my own for six weeks and feeding my encouragement is that four additional papers I approached about carrying the feature instantly said yes and signed on, so as of mid-November, YWP will be in five daily newspapers in Vermont (and partially in New Hampshire.) And if you've ever looked at a newspaper map of Vermont, that's the bulk of the daily circulation for the state.

My hope is that I will be able to spread out to other states and find some additional money -- and revenue -- to keep going when this grant runs out.

If not, I will take up house painting.



Tim Good going to Detroit

Tim Good, described by one co-worker as “one of the best people to walk in the door here in 20 years” is motoring off to the Detroit Free Press..

Here are Tim’s thoughts:

Detroit sure ain't Paris. But it's a job, and a pretty good one as far as I can tell. I'm excited about it, anyway.

I'll be working on the news design desk, doing basically what I've been doing at the
Beacon, minus the copy editing. I'll be laying out nation/world, local and business pages, and, I hope, getting into the A1 rotation.

I started at the Beacon in 2000. I've been a utility man, rimming and slotting some on the copy desk, and laying out anything and everything on the news desk. It was fun; I liked the variety and was grateful for the opportunity.

I probably have much the same take on the paper since the sale as everyone else -- about the gap between what we used to be and where we are now. That's a pretty wide gap, sadly, and it's looking as if it's going to get wider before it goes the other way, if it ever does. The worst part is seeing the young blood that the paper needs be drained away to other papers.

I don't want to forget about the Beacon, and couldn't if I wanted to -- too many good people work there, still, and I have a lot of good memories of them.

My address in Michigan:

21455 Bournemouth Drive
Harper Woods, MI 48225

I'll send an e-mail address and phone number along when I get them.

Take care,


September 29 post corrected

A Septermber 29 post that stated that Guild chairman Andale Gross was first laid off and then his job was saved and then he decided to resign voluntarily has been corrected.. He was never laid off.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday BJ was superb

Quit wasting your time looking at the computer screen. Go spend some quality time with your newspaper. The Sunday Beacon Journal is superb.

This blog has been busy with sad stories of the layoffs, so it is time to report that thos
e left behind are still producing a great product.

For starters, check out the special section on the Road Runners Marathon. The cover, poorly reproduced here, is an outstanding photo by BJ photographer Ken Love showing from the air the mass of runners on the Y-bridge. The only complaint you will find in this post is that the tiny credit line is difficult to read. Inside the section are other great photos by Mike Cardew, Paul Tople, Karen Schiely and, Michael Chritton and David Foster. There were a half dozen photographers on the job and a massive listing of the results that someone had to put together.

There also ere great sports photos by Ed Suba appeared on A1 and the C1 sports front.

Each of the sections showed good page design. Sorry our out-of-town viewers won’t be able to "click on the headline" to see the great look of the Sunday issue on Ohio.com or elsewhere. You have to buy the newspaper to see this. There are, however, more photos of the marathon on Ohio.com

Another huge job was putting together another listing of holiday bazaars on pages E6 and E7. Sometimes it is not the breaking news but service to the readers.

And the decision to bring Bob Dyer out front oftener was a good one. Sunday’s headline for Dyer was “Stranger able to walk into 8 of 9 area schools.” As usual, Dyer is thought-provoking.

Even the column of Managing Editor Mizell Stewart–often an easy target for potshots–was a nice tribute to newspaper carriers who bring it all to you.